TUTTLE — Phil Koons admits he needs to mix up his play-calling, especially late in the game.
But why? Why should the Tuttle coach change anything about the Tigers' traditional power running style?
They have been extremely successful running the ball through four games this season with star running backs senior Jesse Gregory and junior Morgan Neal, even when it's obvious what is coming.
“We can throw, just sometimes as a playcaller when you get a lead I like to sit on it and run the clock out,” Koons said. “But just like last game we got a two to three touchdown lead, they get a turnover, a big play and some penalties, and they're right back in it. We probably should have mixed it up to get some balance.”
Tuttle, ranked No. 8 in Class 3A, is off to a 3-1 start heading into Friday's district opener at home against Little Axe, averaging 355.8 yards rushing per game and 59.5 yards passing.
Gregory and Neal have shouldered the load together, combining for 1,430 yards and 20 touchdowns with each player running about three plays before getting a breather in an effort to remain fresh.
“I think we're pretty hard to stop like that,” said Gregory, who ran a 4.3 40-yard dash at a Central Oklahoma camp this summer.
Last season, Gregory finished with 1,406 yards and 22 touchdowns. He's already beyond halfway there with 774 yards and 12 TDs.
“When Jesse runs he can run though anybody, he can stiff arm, he knows all of his stuff,” senior lineman Connor Polson said. “Usually we get all of our good yards from him.”
Neal, meanwhile, has already carried the exact amount of times he did last season (68) and has rushed for 656 yards, which is just 12 less than last season. He's also scored one more TD than last year.
The duo isn't the only option, though.
During Friday's 28-25 win against Newcastle, Gregory was dealing with cramping issues in the second half and Neal suffered a shoulder injury. Senior safety Tanner Brannon stepped in and averaged 10 yards per carry before sealing the game with an interception with less than one minute remaining.
“You've got to have some good running backs, but I think our offensive line is really performing well of what we ask them to do,” Koons said.
The Tigers are starting two seniors, two juniors and one sophomore up front. They mainly remain in power formations with two tight ends who block. Opponents expect the Tigers to run, and they will continue to do so.
“Everybody knows we're going to run the ball, maybe throw in a boot pass every now and then,” tight end Montana Clark said. “But it's kind of like last year, we may not have as big of a team or good, but we're going to line up and hit you in the mouth.
“That's what Tuttle is all about.”